The Web offers much advice about slide design — use bright colors, beautiful visuals, and more slides with less content on each one. And present from a quiet room, turn off your cell phone, and so on. But there's much lass advice about engaging the audience, competing for their attention, and holding it once you've got it. Here's Part II of a little collection of tips for masterful virtual presentations.
- Unless legalities are at issue, don't read or over-practice
- Reading from scripts might be necessary if legal liability is a risk, as in presentations to press, regulators, or investors. But for other situations, to truly engage your audience, you must sound natural. Reading from a script doesn't work. And over-practicing is just as bad.
- Use a remote mouse
- If you're using slides and standing, leaning over to click the mouse compresses your diaphragm, draining power from your voice. Because using a remote mouse is more like presenting face-to-face, the face-to-face illusion is stronger, which adds to a sense of engagement with the audience, even if you can't see them.
- Some virtual presenters have their assistants operate the mouse, prompting them with pauses, glances, or head nods. In virtual presentations, if the audience can't see the assistant or doesn't know about the assistant's role, these signals can seem awkward.
- Use avatars
- If you're presenting in an empty room, post images on the wall to represent the audience. If you know them personally, use actual photos. If you don't know them, use photos of an audience of similar size. This ruse actually fools your brain. You'll feel more like you're speaking to a live audience, and that comes across in your voice and manner.
- For video, get coached
- Few of us have Few of us have natural video
presence. Find a coach who
knows how to dish
tough love.natural video presence. Most of us can benefit from coaching. Find a coach who knows how to dish tough love.
- Be aware of virtual presentation software issues
- Good slide design for virtual presentations skirts the limitations of some virtual presentation software, which doesn't always fully support presentation apps. Two examples: animations and fancy slide transitions. If you need animation, test it in your presentation environment first. Wipe and fade transitions are reliable; many others aren't. And unusual, fancy transitions are distractions. In the virtual environment, we already have enough distractions.
- Use a high-quality mic
- Use a headset or a clip-on microphone for best sound quality. Don't rely on speakerphones or computer microphones. For Q&A, use a headset to avoid the feedback or echoes.
Reading this little piece takes most people 5-15 minutes. How many times were you interrupted? How many times did you interrupt yourself, to make a note about something else, send a message, or make a call? Maybe now you can imagine a little more clearly the distractions your audience members face. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Effective Meetings:
- Mastering Meeting Madness
- If you lead an organization, and people are mired in meeting madness, you can end it. Here are a few
tips that can free everyone to finally get some work done.
- Remote Facilitation in Synchronous Contexts: III
- Facilitators of synchronous distributed meetings (meetings that occur in real time, via telephone or
video) can make life much easier for everyone by taking steps before the meeting starts. Here's Part
III of a little catalog of suggestions for remote facilitators.
- When the Chair Is a Bully: III
- When the Chair of the meeting is so dominant that attendees withhold comments or slant contributions
to please the Chair, meeting output is at risk of corruption. Because Chairs usually can retaliate against
attendees who aren't "cooperative," this problem is difficult to address. Here's Part III
of our exploration of the problem of bully chairs.
- Virtual Trips to Abilene
- One dysfunction of face-to-face meetings is the Trip to Abilene, which leads groups to make decisions
no members actually support. It can afflict virtual meetings, too, even more easily.
- Characterization Risk
- To characterize is to offer a description of a person, event, or concept. Characterizations are usually
judgmental, and usually serve one side of a debate. And they often make trouble.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 25: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VI
- Narcissistic behavior at work distorts decisions, disrupts relationships, and generates toxic conflict. These consequences limit the ability of the organization to achieve its goals. In this part of our series we examine the effects of exploiting others for personal ends. Available here and by RSS on April 25.
- And on May 2: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VII
- Narcissistic behavior at work prevents trusting relationships from developing. It also disrupts existing relationships, and generates toxic conflict. One class of behaviors that's especially threatening to relationships is disregard for the feelings of others. In this part of our series we examine the effects of that disregard. Available here and by RSS on May 2.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.